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“It provides a high sense of pride.” That is how Cindy Ortega, Senior Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer of MGM Resorts International described the massive solar array atop the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. I spoke with Cindy this past week in regard to the 8.3 MW dc array that includes more than 26,000 photovoltaic panels. The array, certainly one of the largest rooftop arrays in the United States, was recently completed after three years in the making. The array represents one of the most significant, if not the most significant, investments in renewable energy connected to any hospitality-related company. I say “connected to” because MGM does not own or operate the installation. NRG Energy, Inc. owns and operates the array. Through a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), Mandalay Bay Resort will purchase all the electricity generated by the panels.
Losing your job can be the best thing that ever happens to you—if you strategically move on from that separation, do not feel sorry for yourself, and use your imagination to create something positive and fulfilling. It was almost 15 years ago that I did lose my job with a well-known industry trade publication. It took me several years to figure out what I wanted to do and in July 2006 Green Lodging News was born. So yes, this month I celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Green Lodging News website and e-newsletter. What a ride it has been over the last decade—covering the lodging industry from its initial push toward sustainability to its current firm commitment. This week I posted an article about MGM Resorts completing an 8.3 MW dc solar photovoltaic system atop the Mandalay Convention Center—an astounding 26,000 panels. I could not imagine reporting on a project this size a decade ago. The project is just one example of the many green achievements of our industry.
A little more than a year ago I wrote about the McKibbon Hotel Group and its efforts to match orphaned pets with guests staying at its Aloft Asheville Downtown in Asheville, N.C. The hotel paired up with a local animal shelter, Charlie’s Angels Animal Rescue, in an effort to increase the dog adoption numbers in the community. As guests arrive at the Aloft Asheville Downtown, a dog welcomes them from behind the registration desk dressed in an “Adopt Me” vest. I thought it was a great idea and at the time of my article “ruffly” 20 dogs had found permanent homes. I just learned that the Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage, Calif. has been working for just over a year in partnership with Animal Samaritans, a local no-kill animal shelter, to introduce adoptable dogs to resort guests. Since May of 2015, 43 dogs have found forever homes through the resort’s “Dog Samaritans Adoption Project.” “We had an idea that this program would resonate with our guests,” says Randy Zupanski, General Manager at the resort.
U.S. News & World Report recently listed what they believe to be the World’s Best Places to Visit. Topping the list: the Great Barrier Reef. Hugging the east coast of Queensland, Australia, the Great Barrier Reef extends from Cape York in the north to Bundaberg in the south—a total of 1,250 miles. The Great Barrier Reef encompasses 3,000 coral reefs, 600 islands and 1,625 species of fish and attracts 1.6 million annual visitors annually. An attraction in many ways, the Great Barrier Reef is a perfect example of an area highly vulnerable to climate change—coral bleaching caused by increasing carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere. The Great Barrier Reef is already experiencing coral bleaching and a recent report illustrates how vulnerable one continent can be to this phenomenon. Based on surveys of Chinese, U.K., U.S. and domestic tourists by The Australia Institute, results show that tourism areas adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef risk losing more than 1 million visitors per year.
A body dryer instead of towels? When Julien Veyron, Architect and CEO of atelier arcau, responded to my request for additional information on the Light Human Hotel concept (see article and column from last week), he mentioned the use of body dryers in the hotels as one step in helping to reduce environmental impact. Yes, all Light Human Hotel bathrooms will include body dryers. (Google “body dryer” and you will find just a few examples of companies that make them.) The use of body dryers is one example of the brand developers’ willingness to innovate and create a guest experience unlike any other. Would your guests give up their towels in exchange for air drying? In case you missed it, the Light Human Hotel, a new eco-friendly brand and concept created by two France-based entrepreneurs—Jean-Pierre Bandeira, CEO of Light Human Hotel and Veyron—will make its first appearance in the United States later this year in Miami.
Those of you interested in learning about new hotel brands should follow the progress of the Light Human Hotel. It is a new brand coming out of France and the idea of Julien Veyron and Jean-Pierre Bandeira, two French entrepreneurs who first met during a business summit focusing on Latin America Property Development. Architect and planner, Julien Veyron was there for architecture firm atelier arcau’s business development. Jean-Pierre Bandeira was there to develop YOO Co. (founded by Philippe Starck and John Hitchcox). They met at the outdoor bar of the Trump International Hotel & Tower Panama and started to discuss real estate and architecture. A few months later, Bandeira joined atelier arcau to develop the global business of the company. After a few years of observation and discussion, the idea of launching a new brand and concept for hotels came up in 2015. The result: the Light Human Hotel, a new brand designed to appeal to Millennials.
A big thank you to all of you who have already signed up for and/or completed the Green Lodging Survey that was launched by Green Lodging News and Greenview this past week. The survey will remain open through the end of August. If you have not yet visited the survey site, please take a moment to do so. Owners and operators of lodging establishments around the planet are eligible to participate. Please be sure to spread the word about the survey. You will continue to see reminders on the Green Lodging News website and in our weekly e-newsletter. Please be sure to support our survey sponsors: The Arbor Day Foundation, Pineapple Hospitality, reCollect2 Co. and Aquawing Ozone Laundry Systems. If you are interested in sponsoring the survey, click here for details. You can also contact me at (813) 510-3868, or by e-mail at email@example.com. On another note, I am sure you have noticed that Green Lodging News publishes guest columns every couple of weeks.
This coming week will be a very exciting week for Green Lodging News. On Wednesday, June 8, together with Greenview, we will launch the planet’s premier Green Lodging Survey. Owners and operators of lodging establishments around the globe are being asked to participate. If you fall into that category, please complete the survey. If you are part of a company that owns and/or manages multiple properties, please direct representatives at each property to participate. And, if you are in a position to influence participation through direct contact, publicity, etc., please do that as well. We need as many people as possible to complete the survey! Subscribers of the Green Lodging News weekly e-newsletter will get a reminder on Wednesday, June 8 to visit the survey site. An article will be posted at the top of the Green Lodging News website directing site visitors to the survey and ongoing promotional ads will also link to it. While the survey is open you will receive reminders.
During one of my travels in Oregon I had an opportunity to dine at one of the McMenamins restaurants. If you live in Oregon or Washington you have most likely experienced McMenamins. The McMenamin family now has more than 60 brewpubs, breweries, music venues, historic hotels, and theater pubs. I recently spoke with Shannon McMenamin, General Manager of Lodging, Gift Shop and Spa Operations to learn more about her family’s company. Shannon told me they now have 10 hotels open and two under development. Each of the hotel properties has a fascinating story behind it. For example, once home to a restaurant and lounge, banquet hall, Greyhound bus depot, Western Union, soda fountain and beauty parlor, a 1905 building in McMinnville, Ore. is now the 42-room Hotel Oregon. McMenamins’ sustainability story is primarily the revitalization of aging structures—stopping the flow of brick and mortar to the landfill and creating jobs and energy in communities that need it. McMenamins now employs 2,500 and is still hiring.
I posted an article this past week on Tom Rhodes, NC (North Carolina) GreenTravel Initiative Program Manager. I had an opportunity to meet Tom at a conference a number of years ago. One of my readers suggested Tom as someone I should profile in our Personnel Profile section. Of course Tom was a great choice. Any kind of city, regional, state or national green lodging recognition program is only as good as the person or people behind it. Tom is a very good reason North Carolina’s GreenTravel Initiative is such a success. For those of you not familiar with the NC GreenTravel Initiative, it is a program that was developed through a partnership of the North Carolina Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service (NCDEACS), The Center for Sustainability at East Carolina University, Visit North Carolina and the Waste Reduction Partners program. It was launched toward the end of 2011 and allows businesses to be certified and recognized as green businesses, meaning they have accumulated enough points for their best practices as noted in the Application for Recognition.